Protester Secretly Boards Japanese Boat
Smith - Associated Press Writer
Australia (AP) -- An anti-whaling activist climbed aboard a Japanese vessel
Monday in the Antarctic Ocean to attempt a citizen's arrest for the destruction
of a protest vessel last month, while the whalers decried the boarding as
illegal. Pete Bethune boarded the Shonan Maru 2 in an act that New Zealand's
prime minister called dangerous. The protest was another escalation by the
U.S.-based Sea Shepherd activist group meant to hamper the whaling activities
of the Japanese.
planned to hand over a bill for $3 million, the cost of replacing the Ady
Gil, an activist ship he captained that was destroyed in a collision last
month. He also wanted to make a citizen's arrest of the captain of the Shonan
Maru 2 for the Ady Gil's destruction and the attempted murder of the six
Ady Gil crew members, according to a Sea Shepherd statement.
founder Paul Watson said Bethune had boarded the Japanese whaling fleet
security ship and will demand that the Shonan Maru 2 captain surrender to
Sea Shepherd or take his ship to the nearest Australian or New Zealand port
to turn himself in to authorities. But Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research,
which sponsors the whale hunt, called the boarding a "publicity stunt"
and said it is the Sea Shepherd activist who will be held accountable. In
a statement, the institute said the Japanese whalers did not have a means
to return Bethune to his ship.
he (Bethune) has just done is an illegal act" under maritime law, institute
spokesman Glenn Inwood told The Associated Press. "Worst case scenario,
he will be taken back to Japan."
Donald Rothwell, a professor of international and maritime law at the Australian
National University, said Bethune's boarding was not illegal under international
law unless he planned to do harm to the crew or imperil the safety of the
Shonan Maru 2. Merely making a demand or presenting a letter and a bill
did not constitute terrorism or piracy. Takasho Mori, an official in charge
of whaling at Japan's Fisheries Agency, said it was still trying to determine
an appropriate response.
has a six-vessel whaling fleet in Antarctic waters as part of its scientific
whaling program, an allowed exception to the International Whaling Commission's
1986 ban on commercial whaling. It hunts hundreds of mostly minke whales,
which are not an endangered species. Whale meat not used for study is sold
for consumption in Japan, which critics say is the real reason for the hunts.
Shepherd sends vessels to confront the Japanese whaling fleet each year,
trying to block the whalers from firing harpoons and dangling ropes in the
water to try to snarl the Japanese ships' propellers. The whalers have responded
by firing water cannons and sonar devices meant to disorient the activists.
Collisions have occurred occasionally, including the Jan. 6 collision between
the Sea Shepherd's high-tech speedboat Ady Gil and the Shonan Maru 2 that
caused the Ady Gil to sink. There were only minor injuries.
of Australia and New Zealand, which have responsibility for maritime rescue
in the area where the whale hunt is usually conducted, have repeatedly urged
both sides to tone it down. On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key
called the latest Antarctic activities "downright dangerous."
people are operating in Antarctica, where if you land in the water and (remain)
there for more than about 12 minutes, you'll be dead. I don't really think
its terribly sensible, that kind of behavior," Key said.